|369 bird species recorded in Lebanon.|
At present, the 369 species mentioned above belong to 60 families and 18 orders. About 78% are members of the following orders: Passeriformes - 160 species (about 43% of the total); Charadriiformes - 68 (18%); Accipitriformes and Falconiformes - 39 (11%); and Anseriformes - 20 (5%).
So far, 134 species have been recorded breeding in Lebanon. Only 110 breed regularly, the rest being either occasional or former breeders. Of the 110 regular breeders, 56 are exclusively residents (i.e. their populations remain within Lebanon) such as Sparrow, Palm Dove, Yellow-legged Gull, Graceful Warbler, Bulbul, Chukar, Long-legged Buzzard. 54 are exclusively summer breeders (i.e. winter elsewhere but breed in Lebanon) such as Turtle Dove, Pallid Swift, Swallow, Red-backed Shrike, White Wagtail.
The breeding season for 74% of the species is from March to mid-July, while the rest may start as early as the beginning of February (i.e. raptors) or end as late as September (i.e. Palm Dove, Sparrow, Graceful Warbler).
Among the species that have bred in the past (former breeders) two are today extinct in Lebanon (Lesser Crested Tern and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater). The reason for their extirpation as breeders are various. The following circumstances provide a plausible explanation for this:
1. Four species (Audouin's Gull, Lesser Crested Tern, Common Tern and Little Tern) were published by Stenhouse (1904) breeding on palm Islands but stopped to do so, at least from 1956 onward. Furthermore, one of these species (Lesser Crested Tern) apparently ceased to appear in Lebanon. The extirpation of these four species from the islands is not surprising knowing that insular communities are very susceptible to persecution, disturbance and development. All these factors (hunting, egging, feeding on nestling, recreational, commercial and agricultural activities, military occupation, fishing with dynamite near the islands, etc.) prevailed in the area prior to its declaration a protected area. Only the Yellow-legged Gull obtaining, throughout the year (especially in winter), ample food from waste resisted. This was not the case of the extirpated species which mostly rely on natural food.
2. Five species of raptors (Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Levant Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle and Lesser Kestrel were also published as breeders but stopped to do so not only because of the pressure of hunting but also due to the destruction and the fragmentation of their natural habitat (degraded woodlands for most species) and to human interference in the nesting areas.
The list of migrants and/ or winterers includes 246 species. Huge numbers of birds are recorded each year on migration such as Garganey, Honey Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Whinchat, Marsh Warbler, Willow Warbler and Collared Flycatcher. Many species occur on migration and in winter like Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Common Buzzard, Woodcock, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-headed Gull, Skylark, Dunnock, Stonechat and Chiffchaff. While the list of birds that are exclusively winter visitors in Lebanon is limited to 8 species: Gannet, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Wallcreeper, Jackdaw, Desert Finch and Yellowhammer.
Some migrating or wintering species may have smaller populations that breed in Lebanon as residents or summer visitors such as Little Bittern, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Hobby, Quail, Water Rail, Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, etc.
Moreover, the list encompasses 80 vagrant or occasional species (wanderers outside the migration range of the species) of which 36 are unrecorded since 1972. That is about a quarter of all bird species ever recorded in Lebanon. Among the vagrants that have been recently recorded: Slovenian Grebe, European Storm Petrel, Mute Swan, Red-crested Pochard, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Verreaux's Eagle, Oyster catcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Armenian Gull, Alpine Accentor, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Green Warbler, Plain Leaf Warbler and Yellow-throated Sparrow.
The presence of some endangered species, at global level, in Lebanon (Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferriginous Duck, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Corn crake, Great Snipe, Audouin's Gull) make it clear that this country is of great value at international scale.
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